Coming from the revenue world myself, I’m never surprised to see an executive zero in on return on investment when considering a new solution. In fact, one of the biggest challenges for an organization building or growing a drone program is securing budget. Knowing this issue can completely ground drone initiatives, I’m going to share some of the most common questions I hear around funding, payback periods, and short and long-term ROI.
Why should I give my team a budget to build or grow the drone program?
Drone Program ROI
Time and time again, we’ve seen drone programs realize return on investment through more efficient processes, improved worker safety, and lower operating costs — and, this is something that tends to happen pretty quickly. West Virginia Department of Transportation began using drones to survey stockpiles and just two years later, they saw a savings of more than $340,000 in a single month.
Use drones to increase safety and minimize risk
From infrastructure inspections to disaster response and countless jobs in between, drones are reducing the amount of time workers are exposed to dangerous environments and hazardous materials. While it’s impossible to attach monetary value to human health and safety, organizations are seeing a decrease in medical, workers compensation insurance, and liability insurance expenses as their safety records improve.
We’ve seen the conversation around drone use shift significantly over the past couple of years. What once was an educational session explaining what drones could do for an organization’s operations has evolved into organizations looking for ways to standardize, refine, and innovate their drone programs. If you aren’t already using drones as a tool for your business, you may be behind your competitors. Here’s how drones are bringing a competitive advantage to a variety of industries:
Are there areas where it makes sense to pull budget from in order to develop a drone program?
Most commonly we see initial budgets come from innovation, aviation, or operations. I’d recommend looking at your use cases and determining where you will get the most significant return. Some customers are focused on operational savings, while others are more focused on safety and risk-related ROI. Good news, you’ll generally get both. To get an idea of what makes the most sense, try diving into our ROI calculator you’ll find attached to our Budgeting webinar.
What are the short-term benefits to starting a drone program?
While we envision return on investment increasing by magnitudes as drone capabilities and regulations improve, drones have been providing tangible ROI for a while. In 2018, 88% of companies using drones reported ROI in one year or less. Today, customers share that five times to ten times ROI is common.
Another benefit to implementing a drone program is establishing a reputation as an innovator and thought leader in your industry. This is incredibly helpful when it comes to getting positive media coverage, attracting new talent for recruiting, and giving executives something exciting to talk about.
What are the long-term benefits to starting a drone program?
I’ve talked a lot about the current state of drones and how they’re enabling organizations to improve worker safety and increase efficiency, leading to very real and tangible ROI in the first year. But as the industry evolves and the regulatory environment allows for more complex operations, we envision bigger and bigger returns on investment. A common phrase in the drone industry is “crawl, walk, run” when referring to the stages of drone program growth. In order to see the long-term benefits and complexity you’ll find in the “run” stage, you’ve got to start laying the foundation and crawling now.
How do I make a case for funding to my higher-ups?
There’s no clear path to gaining executive buy-in for a drone program and approval will depend largely on your organization’s specific goals and concerns. That being said, there is some consistency in what stakeholders are looking to see. Go in with a plan — be sure you know who will manage the program, what it will accomplish, and how much it will cost. Keep your audience broad — programs that include stakeholders from various teams across the organization are often the most successful. Show how it can be done better — what you want to do with drones is already being done in a less safe, less efficient, and more costly way.
Don’t automatically assume your executives know the value a drone program can bring. Educating your executives can be the most time intensive aspect of your pitch. It’s a new technology and, while there is tremendous value, building their comfort level is critical because it’s easier to say “no” than try something new. We outline more on pitching your program in our Adding Drones to the Enterprise Guide.